Sometimes when the plan goes to hell it all comes together. Gary and I found ourselves packed and ready for a dual-sport ride with no particular place to go. The original plan was Idaho and the Magruder Corridor, but with just the two of us, we decided to forgo the 800 mile drive and try our luck in Cle Elum. What luck it was.
We checked in to the first motel we saw and walked across the street to the Ranger Station and met the most helful Ranger Nancy. We bought maps and she and her fellow Rangers gave us all kinds of good advice about the trails, what to avoid and what to enjoy. One thing they stressed was that many of the 4×4 trails are really rugged with big steps and lots of off-camber tight corners. We were happy to avoid those on our 300+ pound dual-sport bikes.
If you plan to ride this area, make the Ranger Station and Ranger Nancy your first stop. Their local knowledge is superb and if pressed, they will give you their recommendations for food and coffee shops. Highly Recommended.
Since it was now well after lunch, we decided on a quick scouting trip loop to the south. We rode south to the Westside Hwy and then connected with 3350, which took us up the hill. Look for section 15, half green, half white, due south of Cle Elum. Great views of Cle Elum and the surrounding area. At the top we continued south and downhill until we got to the North Fork Taneum Trail – 1377.
We rode this single track west about 5 miles until it crossed Taneum Creek and then 1378 back east to FR 3300. That first mile of 1378 is steep getting up out of the creek and will make you wish you had a 200 two-stroke! We continued east to Taneum Junction and then retraced our route north to the top of the hill. We made a quick detour out to Peoh Point for a couple of quick photos. Quick because the sun was dropping fast, the chill wind was rising and it was marguerita time!
After breakfast at the motel, we headed east toward Ellensburg and then north up Table Mountain and adventures unknown. Neither of us had been in this area before. Just north of the US-10 and US-97 intersection, we got on Reecer Creek Road (35) and followed that north all the way to the big intersection near Diamond Head. Then east along the ridge on 9712 to the big Horse Camp. Just past that, we turned north again and followed Mission Creek on 7100 and 11 down into Cashmere and lunch.
If you look carefully at the map of Reecer Creek Road you will see a short section of switchbacks just north of where the roads makes a turn to the east. This section up the hill is a paved single-lane stretch of heaven. I’d buy a motard bike just to run up and down that stretch. Amazing.
Farther north you will notice a campground at Lion Rock. One of the most amazing views of the Cascades and the Stewart Range I have ever seen. I want to be there and watch the early morning light on the Stewarts.
All along this ridge are trails and roads off to the left and right. Plenty of places to explore with lots of photo opportunities. You can connect with Blewett Pass or ride over to Mission Ridge ski area and explore around Beehive Mountain and Squilchuck State Park. Lots of ways up and down the mountains around here.
Years ago on my first and only CycoActive GPS ride, I rode Colockum Pass from Wenatchee to Ellensburg. It was my first real dual-sport ride and I was terrified. We retraced that route, riding the pavement all the way around through Wenatchee and south along the Columbia and finally west again up into the hills and off the pavement. All the way to the top this is a rough rocky road. Shake, rattle and roll. There is an intriging route east from the top down Brushy Creek Rd that will take you to the Columbia River that we wanted to try. Taking a break at the top, Gary did the math on our average miles per hour and we decided it was best left for another day.
If I had to do this route again, I would find more interesting alternatives to this long paved stretch and avoid Wenatchee traffic. There appear to be lots of options.
I think the ride down into Ellensburg was as nice a ride as I’ve done. The road is fun and occasionally scenic, Gary and I did most of it standing up riding side-by-side and it ended at the Dairy Queen with a cold drink and ice cream. Does it get any better? We followed 10 back west and thought we might find a way to ride the road that follows the river into Cle Elum, but we didn’t. The Iron Horse Trail is a non-motorized walking trail on the old railroad tracks. Anyway, we were ready for a soft chair and an adult beverage, or two.
We decide we need some real coffee to start the day, so we head into town to Pioneer Coffee. Thanks, Ranger Nancy. Oh, and don’t get between Gary and a piece of Pumpkin Pie!
Today’s loop was south and west. Some of it new, some of it I had been on before. We retraced out route south to the top of the hill and over to Taneum Junction and then continued south up and down the ridges, passing very near the Manastash camping area and finally dropped down to 410 on Rock Creek Road. An excellent segment.
We stopped for a quick bite at Whistlin Jacks and as we were standing there getting ready to go in, a black WeeStrom goes past. I didn’t think anything of it until a few moments later that same bike is pulling to a stop right next to us. I hear a, “Hi, Phil!” from under the helmet and it’s my friend Tim on his way back to Idaho. Small world!
After lunch, we head west on a familiar route for many of us. West on 410 to the Little Naches, past Kaner Flats and westward on 19 to FR 1913. We continued climbing to the northwest to the top and then dropped steeply down the north side to the Green River. Then north over Tacoma Pass and the junction with 41. This is the route we took on the Wednesday Dual Sport ride a couple years ago. Instead of turning west for Stampede Pass, Gary and I turned east toward Cabin Creek and Easton. The $4 Forest Service plainly states there is a bridge out here and it is correct. The last 50 yards to the river and the next 300 after are rocky two-track and a river crossing. Not real hard, but not your usual smooth gravel road, either. Fun!
At Easton, we jumped on the freeway and 15 minutes later we are back at our motel. Since we’re only 90 minutes from Seattle, we pack up, phone home and grab one more Pioneer coffee for the road. I’m home before dark. Good times!
Here is the .gpx file: (501K) Cle Elum Fall 07 GPX